EA had previously addressed the lack of toddlers and pools in a forum post, detailing that technical restrictions and time played a hand against them, even though they really did want to add in toddlers and pools. Recently, the company made a more visible blog posting about the absence of toddlers and pools, getting into a few of the tech specs behind the decision.
The post, over on The Sims, is quite lengthy and somewhat detailed. Only the first third talks about the exclusion of toddlers and pools, however.
The post was made by a Rachel Franklin, the executive vice president of Maxis, and the technical reason as to why The Sims 4 won't launch with two of the more important features from franchise's long-running history, is as follows...
“It begins with new technology and systems that we built for this new base game for The Sims – a new AI system, new animation system, new audio positioning tools, new locomotion logic, new routing intelligence and much more are all entirely new in this game. The vision for The Sims 4 is a new experience that brings your Sims to life in deeper and uniquely personal ways – through emotions, personality traits, behaviors and interactions. To do that, our technology base needed a major upgrade.”
Many gamers compared the initial response to that of SimCity's issues from just a year ago, where Maxis had stated that due to the design of Glassbox, offline mode would not be possible.
A Maxis engineer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Rock, Paper, Shotgun that offline mode was, in fact, possible and that it wouldn't be too hard to achieve.
Shortly after Maxis gave an official response about offline mode not being possible, a hacker managed to implement a very playable offline mode, proving that the PR response from Maxis was not truthful.
In the case of The Sims 4, Franklin goes on to say that the features are missing because of trade-offs and the new technology such as build mode and new animations...
“So the bottom line is that when we sat down and looked at everything we wanted to do for this game, all the new tech we wanted to build into it, the fact was that there would be trade-offs, and these would disappoint some of our fans. Hard pill to swallow, believe me, but delivering on the vision set out for The Sims 4 required focus. Focus on revolutionizing the Sims themselves. So, rather than include toddlers, we chose to go deeper on the features that make Sims come alive: meaningful and often amusing emotions; more believable motion and interactions; more tools in Create A Sim, and more realistic (and sometimes weird!) Sim behavior. Instead of pools, we chose to develop key new features in Build Mode: direct manipulation, building a house room-by-room and being able to exchange your custom rooms easily, to make the immediate environment even more relatable and interactive for your Sim.”
Many gamers could be understanding of removing toddlers due to a new animation system (in game design, it would require a new animation skeleton and its own series of separate animation cues), which could cost a lot and take a lot of time (depending on the engine's pipeline and how assets are managed and implemented).
But pools in place of build mode? That doesn't really mesh well considering that pools seems like they should have been worked on and implemented with dancing, sleeping and showering. Usually, object interactivity is tied cohesively together in the development process, and if they plan on implementing pools it would have seemed faster and cheaper to have worked on that aspect with other core interactive features.
Of course, gamers will simply need to make a decision as to whether or not they will support the cause when the game launches in two month's time, or whether or not they'll support the company when the pools and toddlers eventually release as separate DLC packages.